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A lesson in parallels, holding my head up high: Stop victim blaming.

I cannot help but notice the undeniable parallels of my time in Mozambique and my time in Montana, besides the fact that they both start with M and have 3 syllables.  This month, and this weekend especially has been enlightening.

Let me elucidate a little.

I went to both places on a hunch, a spiritually guided hunch, knowing one person.

I went to Mozambique on the promise of a job as an Admin Asst for a construction company,  I am currently an Admin Asst for a construction company.

Both John Goosen and my dad are emotionally abusive.

I was invited last minute to a friend of John Goosen’s wedding, I was invited last minute to a friend of my employer’s wedding.

I went out dancing with the group of people I barely knew for both weddings.

And here is what made this weekend, these particular moments stand out to me.

A couple weeks ago, someone I know posted his outrage at a man who had choked a girl and thrown her across a room.  At first, I thought he was standing up for me, shedding light on what had happened.  But, it was about someone else he knew.

That being the case is fine.  Be outraged. We all should be. And he was properly outraged at the abuser and stood up for the victim.  But it was in the comments where ‘situation’ came up that began to bug me.

The idea remains that there are situations that violence can be tolerated, understood, or at least not in need of outrage.

This woman’s situation and mine were parallel.  We were both violently attacked, choked, and thrown across a room.  I was continuously assaulted for half an hour.  I don’t know what else happened with this other woman, but it doesn’t matter, two men decided that was the way to behave.  She and I were both violently attacked. Neither of us deserved it.

This weekend’s wedding and ensuing revelry gave me tangible evidence, something so very in my face real, that the last shreds of doubt are gone that even one tiny bit of my assault was my fault.

I am, quite literally, in the same setting I was expecting in Mozambique, same job, same social circle.

And, the first time I’ve really gone out while here in Montana was practically the same situation as the night before I was assaulted.  Wedding of people I’ve only just met, out on the town, dancing, drinking, etc.

Here in Montana, I’m having to be the same kind of trusting, the same kind of maneuvering through the living situation, the same kind of putting myself out there socially.  It’s too similar to be mere coincidence.  I believe that the Spirit has given me this glimpse, this reminder, this moment to be able to compare and to see truth.

Every step of the process that wasn’t safe for me, was John Goosen’s purposeful, deliberate fault.

I put as many precautions into going as I knew how to, but he was intentionally creating an unsafe environment and circumstances, while also creating the illusion of the opposite.

Everything that made Mozambique unsafe for me was his orchestration.

It was not my choice to go to Mozambique that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice to “make the best of the situation” that made me unsafe.  It was not my choice of living situation, my choice to leave Turkey, or Taiwan, or Czech, or America that made me unsafe.  Nothing I did made me unsafe.

It was solely John Goosen’s deliberate intentions to manipulate me, lie to me, isolate me, threaten me, make me feel unsafe, and ultimately assault me that made me unsafe.  His choices made me unsafe.  He made me unsafe.  He assaulted me.  He is at fault.

photo

John Goosen. Willem Johannes Goosen of South Africa.

JohnGoosenFB

JohnGoosenFB; living in Mozambique

There is no situation created where the victim of violence is at fault.  No domestic situation, no relationship status, no style of clothing, no sexual orientation, no amount of alcohol, no color of skin, no language, no religion, NO anything, EVER that is deserving of ANY kind of violence.

I don’t know if it just makes people feel unsafe themselves to think that this type of violence could happen to them, no matter what, without provocation, without reason, so they have to make the victim have some fault in order to absolve themselves from the possibility that it could happen to them, and therefore feel safer.  I don’t know.  I don’t understand it.

But I put myself in exceptionally similar situations in both places, and here, in Montana, with the same type job, having to work through things with my dad/ live with an abuser, going out with new people, mostly men, wedding of new people, drinking, dancing, general debauchery, etc.  I was completely safe.  People I had only just met, my male boss, a bar situation, lots of ways that could be construed as putting myself into dangerous situations.

And if a violent action had happened to anyone there, it is reasonable to think that others would blame the victim.  It was only a “fun night out” because no one ended up in a violent situation.

In Taiwan, I lived with 4 men.  I was never in danger.  Not once in a year and a half did any of them even come close to raising finger to me.  They were kind and protective.  In a wide variety of situations, I knew at all times that I was safe with them.  Living with men doesn’t make me unsafe.  I wasn’t lucky that I found a rare breed of good housemates.  The general population of men are safe.

Being a victim does not make the scenario dangerous.  Being an abuser does.

#StopVictimBlaming

Because we do so little to put the focus and the blame where it belongs, abusers get away with violence over and over again.  We only live in the “dangerous” world, because we don’t stop violence, instead we question people for being victims.

~

I did 2 sets of 8 pushups today.  My wrists are healing, my mind is healing.  My determination remains strong and new avenues to pursuing  justice are coming around.

My goal is to make sure that John Goosen can never hurt another woman, another person, again.

This month’s, this weekend’s parallels bring me even more healing.  Even more understanding. Even more determination.  Everyone deserves to live their dreams, go for their moons and stars, to be the best version of themselves.

#noonedeservesviolence

There are some really wonderful groups out there I’m aligning with, some great bloggers, and some non-profits with strength beyond what I am capable of solo.  Violence stops people from believing in their greatness.  It stops people from believing in each other.  It stops peace.  No amount of violence can ever bring peace.

Education needs to include teaching ways to achieve peace.  Education needs to be given to everyone.

“If we don’t teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence”  Colman McCarthy

 

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Our parents generation was perfectly fine with domestic violence, why can’t we be?

Welcome to the Rodeo.

It’s a hum-dinger of a ride.

(It’s taking a few turns through sarcasm-ville too, so have fun.)

Smug isn't he?

Smug isn’t he?

Did you know that Elvis Presley hits a girl in every single movie he’s I’ve seen him in? 

He does. 

Wanna talk about influence over a generation?  Elvis was IT.  He set the standard.  “It’s ok to hit women” was displayed across every drive-in and movie theater from 1956 to 1977.

thUFWHUG0K

Did you know that The Beatles had a popular song about killing a girl over jealousy?

They do.

“Run For Your Life”

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or ya won’t know where I am
You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end ah little girl
Well I know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the lineYou better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end ah little girlLet this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you deadYou better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end ah little girlI’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or you won’t know where I amYou better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end ah little girl
Nah nah nah
Nah nah nah
Nah nah nahAnd Audrey Hepburn? thNFNKKRR1

Breakfast at Tiffany’s opening scene has a guy banging on her door in anger that she won’t let him because he “has rights” after paying for her dinner.

Her not letting him in -is the wrong, not his banging on her door expecting his “rights”, so she hides by going out of her window instead of telling him to go away.  And it just continues from there.

Really, this list goes on and on.  Watch any soap opera and you have a prime seats to the Victim Rodeo.

And now the tides are turning back again.

What happened to the strong, independent women songs?  Beyoncé got married, so now we all need to get back to domesticated bliss? There’s a whole new onslaught of I’ll cook for you, clean for you, you’re the strong one, give me lots of bling and I’ll do whatever you want, please make all my decisions for me, songs. Pop music is back at the effective conditioning of us all to “remember our places”.

It used to be that a guy could say, “Trust me” to get a girl, but we’ve learned haven’t we?

It’s a joke now,

“Trust me”.

Trustme

The abusers have learned too.  Now, the abusers wait to hear you say, “I trust you”, to them.  They play the roping game until they hear those words.

trust

Oh, they believe you alright.

BUT, because they know they are not trustworthy, their first thought on hearing you say you trust them is,

“You’re an idiot“.

And you can’t ever change that.

From that point on you are an idiot to them and they have every right in their mind to treat you badly, because that’s how one treats idiots, right?

I mean, who can deny it?  Sure, sure, sure, you can say that’s not the case, we all know the right words we’re supposed to say, PC and all, right?      Nobody should treat idiots badly.  Idiots are people too.

But it’s not real life.  In real life, ie, in songs, soap operas, television, movies, the ways we see and hear life told to us, repeatedly, throughout our lives, for generations, that must be how it’s done.  So, if you’re an idiot (ie a girl), that trusts me( an abuser), then you deserve whatever happens to you.  Case closed.

And we all go along for the ride.

If she’s such an idiot girl that trusted that guy, then she deserves what happened.  If she stays with him, she deserves it.  Why is she with him, she’s an idiot.  Why didn’t she leave him after the first time? What an idiot. She should have been more careful, so idiotic, she deserves what happened.  She’s such an idiot, who does that anymore?

Those are the victim blaming thoughts we’ve been conditioned to think.

And along with those, come’s the Victim Rodeo dance – where the abuser is really the victim and all the while they’re hog-tieing you, you’re apologizing for their hitting their knees too hard on the dirt around you because you were so confused with all the hoopin’ and hollerin’ and clown antics meant to trick you, you forgot to soften the ground for them.

Because they are masters of turning everything around.

Because they don’t care about anything except not having consequences.

Because controlling you is more important than reality.

Because they know the more you try to control them, the deeper their mind fuck is working.

Mass murderers? Rapists?  Abusers? Oh no, VICTIMS.  They are the abused, why else would they shoot up a whole school/office/theater?  They are victims. Why else would they throw a girl around a room and choke her?  They are the victims.

They don’t need jail, they just need some medication and a good counselor to work through their childhood issues.

If your first thought isn’t directed at the abuser, you are victim-blaming.  If your next thoughts aren’t for helping the victim, you are victim blaming.  If you are victim blaming, don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Even victim’s victim blame.

Workin’ At The Brain Wash, sing it with me!

What most people don’t understand is the amount of brain-washing and conditioning that goes into creating victims.  And how we are all part of the process.  Yes, ALL of us.  We are all working at the Brain Wash and we are singin’ it with feeling.

objectify much?

Victims in abusive situations don’t leave right away, because there are so many colorful locks, laces, and latches put in place before the situation becomes so black and white to everyone else.

A victim’s sense of control in their lives has been systematically stripped away and replaced with confusion, lack of trust in themselves, isolation, and a distorted sense of what will happen to them without the abuser.

Abusers play on fantasies and fears.

Even though I had a round-trip ticket from Turkey to Mozambique, when the time came to use my ticket back to Turkey, I was reminded that I would get thrown in jail without my passport if I left the island.  I was told it would cost too much to get me to the city.  I was told that going to the city on my own, I would probably be raped, stolen, or both.  It was only safe for me to stay with him.  Everything about my finding a way to leave was distorted and my fears played upon in order to control where I was and what I was doing.

I got the fantasy of island life, a good peaceful job with the ability to “rest” while looking for work for the next school year.  And once there, I got all the worst fears of a woman travelling alone thrown at me; I was only safe while under his protection.  And, because of my prior conditioning, I thought I could make the best of the situation and still get myself on my own two feet.  I was doing many things to keep myself safe, while in a very unsafe situation, that I thought was, AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN, a safe situation.

Ya can’t control someone else to get your own control back.

Victims often try to reclaim their control by “controlling” the abusers.  Oh yes, the distorted idea that we can control the emotional healing of our abuser *cough* I mean victimized partner, we can love them into being better people.  We can show them how good it feels to be treated well, then they will know how to treat us well.  They were never shown how it can be to feel loved, so if I love them better, then they will see and it will all be back to the fairy tale they showed me at the beginning. Yep, I’m totally Disney princess style rolling my head with a sugared smile plastered across my face as my dream-filled eyes watch the screen while I type.Enchanted

Because that’s they way we victims are taught to think.  That’s what is put on repeat in our life soundtrack and movie script.  You know you just thought of at least one movie and two songs where that very thing happens.

When I was married, the level of the victim-rodeo dance was amazing.  Even now I am starting to see many of the ways that he made it look like one thing was happening – to everyone else- while making me feel like something else entirely was happening, I hadn’t seen before.

He still does that to our children.  He still makes everything appear how he wants in order to control the way they do things or feel the way he wants them to.  He uses money and “love” to manipulate them.  Sadly, they are learning those trade tools as well.

Survivor 2

Even we, the survivors, the mighty among the victims, the ones who are making great leaps and strides in our ability to reclaim our power and control while allowing the rest of the world to maintain their own, (yes, a little power hype there, I deserve it)

Even we are still caught in the thick blanket of perceptual lies that abusers have been piling on society for millennia.

Our parents generation seems to have not just merely accepted, but been perfectly fine with domestic violence.  Why can’t we be?

Because we actually can reach more people, we can have a louder voice, we don’t have to be divided and conquered, we’re the ants to the grasshoppers,

We have laws and the ability to have global laws that protect and

We know that ALL people should LIVE A LIFE FREE FROM VIOLENCE.

thRU28G03O thSS68L1U4 thZ3UN32PR

What do you think?

 

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A difficult but necessary conversation with my dad: Red Flag *Consent

A difficult but necessary conversation with my dad: Red Flag *Consent

As the first few weeks of living in Montana unfolded, I was seemingly teleported back in time to my childhood.  It really was as if grown up-me was in a dream  watching child-me go through the day-to-day of living with my father.  He and his wife are raising her granddaughter.  I really am sitting back and observing day-to-day, moment-to-moment foundational occurrences in this girls life, that were part of my childhood, and being fully aware of how it has impacted my life, specifically in my tendencies towards abusers.

I am, and will always be, grateful for the fact that my father has been a willing listener and participant in these conversations since I’ve been here.  He has listened to me bluntly, honestly open up about how I feel about  what I’m seeing.  Neither of us have been perfect at these conversations, but we are both giving our best effort to have them, and keep a positive relationship with each other.  If he weren’t being so amazing at taking in, thinking about, and accepting what we’re discussing, I would not be healing as quickly as I am.

A Conversation about CONSENT

We were in the kitchen, M and I.  He had walked by us three times, going back and forth to get something he needed.  Each time he walked by he touched her, touched her shoulder, poked her side, patted her butt.  It was routine.  It’s what he does.

He thinks he’s showing endearment; he doesn’t mean anything by it.  He doesn’t understand, I tell myself.

But I remember the same thing happening to me.  I remember being young and all the little pokes, the little rubs, the playful pats.  I remember the duality of not wanting to be poked all the time and missing the pokes when he was upset with me.  I remember feeling that it was an endearment; it was how he showed me he cared.  And he’s my dad, I want him to care.

Everything we learn about society is built up from what we learn at home first.  How we interact with the world outside the home is a version of what we’ve learned about how to interact at all.

I asked my dad, “If you had a magic lens and you could see into M’s day at school, and there was a teacher or another student that touched M every time he walked by her, innocently enough, nothing overtly sexual, would you be ok with that?”

He quickly sat up, offended, “No, that’s not ok.”

So I looked at him and I reminded him of how he did exactly that same thing to her, every day.  I could clearly see the confusion on his face.

Without realizing, he is teaching her/ taught me that men can touch her/me without her/my consent; that it is endearing to have someone touch without asking first.  We were taught to ignore or not pay direct attention to the fact that our body was not our own to decide what happened to it.  We, being children, were property, he being the patriarch was in charge.  And seemingly without intention, he put himself in charge of our bodies as well.  (We, being girls, would later also be socially inundated with objectification to tack on to the back of being raised as property.)

Our fathers are our first interactions with men.  That relationship helps us learn what to expect of ourselves and others in our future.

I learned not to pay attention to being touched by boys/ men.   And that lack of response is a test abusers use.  It’s a red flag test I blew through time after time.

As hormones hit and life becomes the erratic whirl of our teens, we all begin trying to figure out the differences and similarities between love, sex, and all the chaos in between.  What was endearment touches are now possible love touches by others.  And don’t we all know that, in our teens, each and every love is our eternal soulmate and each loss is devastating beyond measure.  Our need/ desire for physical contact is all mixed up with our need/ desire for the goal of our own partner.  Then add in all the unhealthy, abusive ways we are shown to expect from one another.  How are we supposed to come out of that and into adulthood with a healthy understanding of how to be in a relationship?

If we don’t know how to be asked consent, how to expect to be asked consent, how to ask for consent, how are we supposed to all of a sudden, in the midst of new mature physical bodies with hormones running amuck, start expecting and understanding consent?  Yes, this goes for boys too.

“So”, my dad asked, “then what do I do”?

You ask for consent to touch her.  Teach her how to listen for it.  Teach her to expect it.  Set the example for boys/ men to follow your lead.

“Hey, can I have a hug?”,  “Fist bump”, “Come here, I wanna tickle ya”

Anything, but something verbal that announces to her (him) that you want to engage in healthy, acceptable, endearing physical contact and gives her (him) the chance to disagree or agree.  It should become natural habit, not forced, example

“Awww, can I have a hug”, vs. “M, is it ok if I give you a hug?”

IMPORTANT * Accept the response.  If she says no, don’t coerce her, make her feel bad, do it anyway, or anything else except not do whatever it was you announced wanting to do.  Without any negativity, show her that her no is accepted.  Teach her see the response you want her to expect from others in her future.

Also, don’t withhold physical intimacy.  Children need that physical assurance of your love.  Just make sure it’s appropriate, healthy, and asked for.

Here is where my dad is starting to struggle.  But, that’s normal I think, for this new into an understanding.  He’s having to work through a lifetime of being “the boss” at home.  Letting someone else be in charge of their own bodies means he’s not in charge.  He’s staying “in charge” by not doing anything while he works through the massive change that knowing brings.

I think this is one of the Let Go and Let God type of understandings.  But no change is easy, comes right away, or perfectly.  It’s a process.

Consent for sexual touch has to begin with consent for any physical touch.  Each step along the way, from innocently holding hands, to knowingly going through a sexual act, consent needs to be asked for and given.  There is no point, in any relationship, that you should touch another person without their consent.

Certainly consent is given a kind of implied sense within a romantic relationship, but there should always still be the ability to show or say, “not right now” and have it be accepted, whether it’s a hug, touching the shoulder, or sex.

As I type this, and maybe as you read this, you’ll think, “That seems pretty obvious to me.”, but I’ve been talking through this with other people, and you’d be surprised how many looked at me with the same confusion my dad had and said, “I hadn’t thought about it that way.”

We learn how to interact with the world in our families.  We build our understanding of what is acceptable or not, behaviors to look for or ignore, with those earliest moments.  Everything we do as parents affects long-term, especially if it is a pattern.  We are creatures of habit.  We like the comfortable and used-to things.  We migrate towards people that make us feel secure in our patterns.

We need to look at the patterns we teach our children about consent while they’re young, before we send them out into the world and expect them to just know.

I sent my kidittos out with mixed messages.  The more I learn about the patterns I didn’t see, the more I see how many patterns I passed on in ignorance.  But I also see the many ways I did better than I thought I had.  Parenting is rough business sometimes.  We don’t get a handbook.  I wasn’t being parented through my teens, and I was practically a parent through my pre-teens because I had to basically raise my siblings, so I was mostly able to parent my kidittos without preconceived ideas of how to do it.  That was good and bad.

What I taught them through my words to them, my actions to them, was good, but they were counter-balanced by what I taught them through my actions with their dad and to myself in that relationship and the others I had post divorce.  They saw my words for them and my actions for myself being juxtaposed and incongruent.

I learned what to do to get out of, but not what to do to not get into an abusive relationship.  That’s got to mess with their heads a little.  It messes with mine.

For me the good news is, that no matter what age, if we talk to our children about what we see from our past, we can help the future.  I talk to my kidditos about my relationships because I want them to be “informed consumers”.  That’s not the best term, but it gets the concept across.  As I have walked through life, so many of the relationship mistakes I’ve made have been because I didn’t know any better at the time.  Having more information will help them make better decisions in the relationships they have in the future, I hope.

Fighting through the fear of talking to my dad about these relationship issues has been difficult.  This was only one conversation, one red flag.  But I think it’s a big one.  Pushing through that fear and actually having the conversation was tremendously validating and healing.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

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The endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming

The endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming

HEALING

Through a variety of ways, I have healed internally much faster than anticipated.  Mostly, through determination to not stay stuck in a place of fear.  However, there have been some other wonderful helps along the way. That is not to say I am through with the process.  Hell no.   But I’m farther along than I thought I would be right now.  Much farther.

My journey through becoming a shaman is slower than I expected, but far more powerfully healing than I anticipated.  It packs a punch and then I need time to process it all.   But, I am.  AND THAT IS AWESOME.  I am reaching and stretching and seeing life in bigger and better ways.  I am definitely more confident in my own abilities to trust my journey and its processes.  I am more confident in my spiritual strength and ability to follow my own path no matter who says what about it.

I have had to stare down my childhood and many of the ways that my parents, but specifically my father at this point, primed me for abuse in my future, albeit mostly unknowingly.  And I have had to work through the fear, very real and serious fear of confronting him about it.  But I’ve done it.  And he’s listened.  And though it was incredibly scary, it has been equally freeing since.

I am sifting through the book of my life and placing bookmarks between the pages I need to work on.  I am unfolding the page corners that I had dog-eared for quick reference; the stories I keep thinking back on, that keep me from growing.  I am going back and making new notes on the memories to remind little me that we figured out that problem.  And I am holding my book with newfound love, wrapped in my arms, against my chest; whereas before I held it at arms length, always afraid it would open to the wrong page when I wasn’t looking.

I am ready to travel and teach again.  I am ready to meet new people and find more joy.  I’m ready to start being me again.  And it feels pretty damn good.

RESEARCH

My research and discovery process is and has been enlightening to both the awareness that is already out there and to the still greater amount of awareness and education that is needed.  I have discovered terms I had never heard of, yet know the details of intimately, like Gaslighting.

Unless you know the term, you can’t find it as a form of abuse.  There’s no Google lookup for the individual terms within the forms of abuse, that I’ve found anyway.  It takes looking through hundreds of other avenues to find the term, then start looking that up. I’m working on changing that.  I’m collecting terms.  In fact, if you know of any, please comment, I need the help.

Boy have I had my fair share of gaslighting!  Look it up, you’ll be amazed, enlightened, and hopefully strengthened in your understanding of abuse, how to spot it and stop it.  And I’m starting my own new term, Halfening, the victim-blaming coddling of an abuser for fear of repercussion, after those that did it to me.

FEAR

I don’t like to think that I’m afraid of the unknown.  I actually like heading off into some new adventure, not sure what to expect or how things will turn out, who I will meet along the way, but ready to find out.

However, the unknown of where and when my next adventure begins…….   I am not liking this unknown at all.  I actually pretty much hate the interim.  It causes me panic and to make decisions too fast in order to at least be headed in a certain direction.

BUT HEY, I am in learning mode.  So, even though I’ve had a couple different opportunities to just head into the crazy wild blue, I haven’t taken them.  I’ve given more thought, I’ve taken more time.  I am learning.

LEARNING

I’m still working through the fear of trusting myself.  It is frustrating because I know that I made a fast decision to head off to Mozambique, but I also know that I was guided there.  I trusted my guide and I am actually coming out of this far stronger than even I would have guessed.  But, I am keenly aware that I was guided there to find out that I don’t know how to see the signs of abusers.

I asked for understanding of what happened with Sven.  I thought I had figured out my confidence, my refusal to put up with abuse, my love of self.  And then bam, confidence shaken.  And on the heels of that, Willem Johannes Goosen, aka John Goosen, of South Africa, happened.

This lack of confidence is a layer of the thick blanket of victim blaming that we hold onto.  It is both safe and suffocating.  I need to trust my gut and the results of following my gut.  Sven went against what my gut told me, but he worked until he convinced me.  Mozambique was completely following my gut.  Bad things happen no matter what.  Great things happen no matter what.

During the time I thought Sven and I were moving forward, I was so happy. I was so in love.  I had a great time, and I don’t regret one minute of it.  People ask me if I ever think of revenge; plot for someone to beat him up or something.  I don’t.  Truthfully, the best revenge is that he lost me.  I’m pretty awesome.  Don’t abuse me, and I’m top freaking notch.  That’s his loss not mine.

Mozambicans are wonderful people.  The local people amazed me in so many ways.  The scenery was wonderful and I am so grateful to have been to Africa.  And because of what happened in Mozambique, I have learned what happened with Sven, and what happened with the ex-husband and the few other ex relationships along the way.

I need to trust my gut and press forward with the decisions I make based on my instinct, without fear.  That blanket makes it safe to say, “if only”, “why didn’t I”, “I can’t”, “I shouldn’t”.  Those things feel safe, like they will keep me safe, but bad things happen no matter what.  Hiding from my path doesn’t keep me safe.  Running into or away from, doesn’t guarantee safety.

Just like I keep telling my little step-neice, it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn.

and

GREAT THINGS HAPPEN NO MATTER WHAT

ANOTHER DREAM

I need to stop worrying about safe and put my focus on non-abusive.  I had a dream last night.  I was swimming deep in the ocean with a group of whales.  They kept coming over to me and then going up to get air.  Somehow I was not needing to go get air, yet they kept insisting I should.  After I did, they showed me where land was and so I went up.

Everywhere I walked there were snakes. They were mostly out in the open, yet all of them had only their head and part body showing, the rest curled up in their hiding places.  A few were slinked back inside their hideout.  There was a child with me, and we were walking together.

I was not afraid of the snakes, but I knew I couldn’t give them any energy/ acknowledgement/ attention or they would bite.  I had to teach the child to see without giving acknowledgement, to not be afraid, not be curious or get too close.  The scenery was varied as we walked, rocky, grassy, outside, inside, and there were snakes in a snack booth and a book case.  They were talking to us, some trying to be helpful, give advice, offer to get things for us, but we had to remember they were still snakes.  If we gave them any acknowledgement, they would bite us.

There were many blue things as well, blue was a significant color.  There were people, men, women, children all around us, some talking to the snakes, some not.  Some were holding the snakes, some were collecting them, but many just ignored them.

Snakes and whales have interesting meanings in dreams and as power animals.  I’m curious to see what comes of this.  But I woke up feeling very good.

That’s all for now follks.  I’m doing really well.  I’m looking forward to my next adventure.  I’m singing, crying, laughing, and otherwise feeling the feels of life and loving it.   Go be awesome today, I plan to.

 

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The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

They say when things get tough, that’s when you see people’s true colors.

In each of my trials, I’ve been shown the “true colors” of my friends.  I’m lucky to have so many good friends.  I appreciate all the calls, messages, shows of support, and offers to hang out now that I’m stateside again.  And, I truly appreciate my online friends as much as my in-person friends. 

Blog of many colors

Right now I’m coming to grips with how this atrocity even happened.  I was handling all that Mother Nature was dishing out; no electricity, no running water, violent storms, horrendous heat, Typhoid Fever, with a fair amount of grace I think.  And then without warning, at the end of my weakest state, John Goosen went on an unprovoked ape-shit rampage and decided to fling me around like a rag doll to make me listen to his drunken rant.

Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  That’s normal.  I write more on my good days, but lately it’s writing about my bad days.  That’s also normal.

I value being able to read through other blogs to see the uplifting and helpful information out there.  Feeling like there is a community of people who understand the process I am going through is so wonderful.  Sometimes it can be difficult for my in-person friends to understand.

And then there is always the hope that through this blog someone else can be helped as I work through everything and keep living the day to day as well.  Life goes on and this is how I’m trying to learn as I go.

All the Colors change

Once something traumatic has happened, you see the world differently.  I see the world differently.  Not better or worse, just different.  Things that were once important aren’t any more.  Things that weren’t important suddenly are.  Everything is colored a little differently.

Different or not, I’m still trying to walk through this world. I’m still trying to learn from this and become a better person for it.  I still see the beauty in the sunrises and sunsets.  I love listening to the birds in the morning and the coyotes in the evenings.  I enjoy conversations, cold beers, painting, reading, laughing.

But behind it all I’m trying to find my voice, give voice to those who don’t have it, and blaze a trail for change.

I pick at and piece through the trash pile that is the ways abusers work.  It is alarming how often I pick up a piece of that trash and think, “Oh, that looks familiar, that must be mine.”  Only to turn it over and see an Abuser’s name on it. It’s a bit disheartening to see how pervasive the blaming/ shaming way we treat victims is. 

For example, we all have heard “there’s a way victim’s walk, or hold their head, or (….) that clues abusers in that they are a good target”.

First,

and I want to scream this at the top of my lungs,

NO ONE SHOULD EVER. BE. A. TARGET. 

It doesn’t flipping matter if PersonX walks around with a real sign that says, “I let people abuse me”, PersonX should not get abused.  PersonX should not be a target.  PersonX should feel and be safe.  End of story.  Even if the sign has shiny flashy lights with arrows.

No one should be a target.

Think about that for a minute.  If PersonX has poor self-esteem, (and that shows through their posture), there are people out there who are compelled to hurt PersonX because of it.  Abusers look for people who already feel inferior, then Abusers humiliate them, isolate them, manipulate their emotions, make them feel crazy, makes others think they’re crazy. 

And instead of denouncing the Abuser, instead of stopping the Abuser from finding and hurting others, the general population looks at PersonX and says, “hold your head up more, walk straighter so abusers won’t target you”.  Everything gets shifted over to PersonX.

Why are people so afraid of Abusers that they can’t stand up to them?  I stood alone in trying to get people to see see John Goosen as an abuser.  The other people in Mozambique were so afraid to stand up to him.  He needed to work. He needed his space.  It wasn’t good what he did, but he’s sorry.  He needs medication.

Not a single person, other than myself, looked at him and called him out.  Not one person actually stood up to him, except me.     

It has been enlightening to say the least, to realize every single person I’ve discussed abusive situations with has given ways to change PersonX.

Ex:   “I’d try to get them alone to tell them I could help them if they leave the abuser.”

“Abuser has a (…) problem.  PersonX needs to be more understanding.  I mean get away, but then they need to worry about themselves, not Abuser.  Good riddance, they can deal with themselves”

“If you just tell them to leave, they say ‘it’s only one time’, or ‘Abuser loves me’.  You have to give them little examples how to leave without really saying they need to.”

“I don’t understand why PersonX would go back after that.  PersonX needs to get their head examined.”

Not a single person suggested that the Abuser needs to change. 

The Abuser straight up thought, “Hey PersonX looks (insert adjective of choice ie, lonely, sad, etc.).  If I make them a little less (adjective) they’ll take any shit I dish out.”  “If you feel bad, I want to make you feel worse.”  “And I’m going to make you and everyone else think it’s your fault.”

And everybody else thinks, “PersonX should’ve made themselves look less like a victim.”

This is what abusers do.  They work the whole scenario from the beginning.  From the initial lure to the end, everything and everyone in their environment is part of the set up to get off scott-free.

Our True Colors

I think we are so entrenched, as a general population, in generations upon generations of dysfunctional families, war torn memories, secrets, and lies that we don’t even know how to see the first red flags anymore.  Abusers have done such a trick on the mainstream psyche that when we finally see the red flags, we all point fingers at the victims.

But how can we stop the abuse from happening if we start at the end?

What do you think? 

As you’ve heard/ read my and other stories, how many times have you asked the ‘questions of change’ to the victim rather than the abuser? 

How can we change that scenario?  How can we really stop abuse if we don’t change it?

 

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The Blog Tour Blog Post

Thank you BetterNotBroken for your wonderful and thoughtful blog; you have helped me and many others.  And thank you for the invite to be part of The Blog Tour!

Let’s see there are a few rules…..   I need to answer 4 questions, write an original piece, and nominate 4-5 other bloggers.   If I nominate you, and you accept, you are supposed to answer the same 4 questions, nominate other bloggers, and write your original piece to be published on Monday, June 8.

This is not the first time I’ve been invited to something similar or given a blog award. It’s not the first time I’ve accepted. But it’s the first time I’m following through. I have been worried about having too many people read my blog. But, as I’m in “conquer fear” mode, well….. let’s do it!

1             How does your writing/ creative process work?

Oi. I don’t really know. I write how I feel at the time. That’s about the only prerequisite I have for myself. I don’t write on a prescribed topic or stick to one thing. I write when I feel like writing, I don’t stick myself to a schedule. I’ve tried a few times to do the 30 day challenge and I have yet to complete one. Doesn’t mean I won’t, just haven’t yet. My process: write when I feel like it about what I want to.

2             What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on how to spot the abusers. I’m trying to pull out the secrets and display them so that we can all just be safe. No one should have to worry about their safety. There are tells, I want to put them out there.  Oh, and my fear of dogs.

3             Why do you write or create what you do?

I started as a way for my friends and family to know what I was up to as I finished University and embarked on my journeys around the world. Now I write because it keeps me whole. And hopefully it brings goodness to the world on some level.

4             How does your work differ from the others in your genre?

Well, how does it not really? I think all diary type blogs are unique. We all have different lives, learning different things. Maybe mine is different in that I jump from topic to topic.

The blogs I nominate are:

MarriedNomads

MeerkatTravelGang

Taiwanna Adventure

Our Life in 3D

And now for my original post:

Dear Me,

I hardly ever tell you, but I know how strong you are. I know I tell all the ways you aren’t strong too often. I’m sorry. I know you put your brave face out there and make comments about how awesome you are to make-up for all the awful stuff I tell you.

Those words are not true, but you don’t like to hear how good you are. I was just trying to keep you comfortable. I shouldn’t keep repeating them. It’s not fair to you. You’re good with uncomfortable. It’s one of your strengths. I’ll be better.

I don’t tell you often enough how brave you are. I know you say you aren’t, you’re just living your life. But you live your life by your heart. That’s bravery. You don’t take no for an answer when you make up your mind. That’s bravery. I sit silently hoping nothing goes wrong and ready to help you pick up the pieces in case it does. But maybe if I told you more that you are brave, told you more that your courage in the face of obstacles, that taking that first step, every time, made me so proud of you, maybe you would take more first steps.

Your fearlessness scares me sometimes. But we get to have wonderful adventures because of it.

It’s ok to stay open. It’s ok to still be all of who you really are. You have been so true to yourself these last 10 years. I know I keep telling you that you should be more like other people. Sometimes I get so frustrated when you refuse. But, it’s only fear I’m speaking.   Why should you listen to my fear? I’m really grateful you don’t. It’s habit, but all habits can be broken. I will work so hard on this. I don’t really want to be like everyone else. I like you just the way you are.

I’m sorry I keep stringing out those mean questions, flooding you with doubt. You don’t bring these terrible circumstances to you. You are not defective. You don’t have a sign that says, “abuse me”. Those people are out there, with or without you. It’s their place to choose their actions, not yours. It is their wrong doing to harm you, not yours. Their abusive nature is their legacy, not yours.

I know you’ve been hurt. It’s ok to feel the pain. It’s ok. Feel it and keep speaking. Speak up. Speak out. You have a voice that can help others, which can help stop abuse all over the world. Your strength can help, can make a difference.

Go ahead and do it. I will be here supporting you. Along the way there will be more people supporting you. Look how many friends you have supporting you right now. Please forgive me for a life time of misguided thoughts meant to derail you from the inside. Remember this when the naysayers start talking. Remember to dismiss them. They are not speaking from truth, but rather from their own derailing misguided inner voices.

You are kind and patient and accepting and loving. That is your legacy. You know thousands of people and only a small handful have hurt you. Kind and accepting are not bad traits lady, they’re pretty damn good ones. Thank you for not entertaining those doubt-inducing questions, no matter how persistent I was. I am ashamed I ever asked them. I won’t again.

I want you to stop joking when you say that you are awesome. Please believe it. You are. Keep taking the hands of others and help them see how awesome they are, but believe it of yourself as well. Because it’s true.

It’s almost lunch time, so I should probably stop writing so we can eat. Keep strong my darling. There are bright beautiful skies ahead.

If YOU also want to join the Blog Tour, let me know  🙂  

Good Luck to you all in your many adventures!!!  Thanks for reading  🙂

 

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You need consent to touch me

You need consent to touch me

Let’s talk about a more round meaning to a new buzz word: Consent

Disclaimer:        Absolutely all of this post is about adults. I am not even going to venture into the world of children with this post; not parent/child, child/ child, adult/child. This post is about adult/adult behaviors, and more specifically about violence against women.

I hear consent being used a lot these days, and for good reason.

Consent is agreement or permission to do something, for something to happen or be done or to allow something to happen.

But it’s becoming a very squared off version of a much rounder word. I’m finding that consent is being squared off into a meaning that solely relates to sex. And it’s being narrowed down more and more into that, as we try to define what is and is not considered consensual sex.

Giving / receiving consent for sex is SUPER MEGA AMAZINGLY IMPORTANT CRUCIAL and UNDENIABLE. I am not saying it isn’t.

What I am saying is that isn’t *all* consent means.

Consent over what happens to my body should not stop at my lady parts. My WHOLE body needs consent to be touched in any way, at all times.

It’s my body.

Sexual Assault is a part of Physical Assault. You can’t touch me sexually without touching me physically.

Any means in which someone continues to touch you sexually, without your consent is sexual assault. All sexual assault is horrible. Rape is the end all worst thing that can happen in a sexual assault.

Non-consensual sex is rape. End of story. It is. And it is a crime.

But, what about the rest of my body? What about the rest of Physical Assault? If I’m not getting raped, does that mean they don’t need consent to touch me?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What’s the end all for physical violence against women that doesn’t involve sex? Death

Again, let me state that I am NOT trivializing rape, –rape is a form of death. I know. I’ve been raped. I know the shroud and have spoken with the reaper. But I am trying to complete the whole here.

Consent does not stop at sex. Consent means any way you touch me needs to have my approval.

If I reach out my hand to shake yours, that’s consent. Feel free to grab hold and shake my hand. If I reach out to hug you, and you want to hug me back, that’s consent. Hug away. If you come up behind me and put your hand on my shoulder, I turn, see who you are, smile and say something nice, then shaking my hand or hugging or other forms of nonsexual touch will probably be ok.

If I see who you are and pull away, then you no longer have consent to touch any part of me. Not even my fingernail. You don’t get to reach out and try to pull me in. You don’t get to grab my arm. I don’t care how much you want to talk to me.

If I want to leave the room, there is NO way that you can stop me that is not abuse.

It’s a very general but important concept.

No one can make another person do something. You can’t control anyone.

No matter how high ranking you are, the other person still has their own ability to decide.

The only way to MAKE someone do what you want is through coercion, manipulation, deception, and physical means. Each of these is a form of abuse. No one can make you do anything without being an abuser. ( *this does not include those incarcerated by the law)

You can’t make people do anything.

Each of us has the right to choose what we do.

Sexual or not, you don’t get to touch me without my consent.

So here are a FEW things that I don’t consent to have happen to my body that don’t involve sex:

Having your face in my personal face space. Don’t crowd me. It’s a threat, it’s meant to be a threat, and it’s not ok.

My hands squeezed to a point that my fingers and knuckles press together painfully.

My shoulders or neck squeezed or grabbed with intent to hurt or stop me.

My chin pinched to turn my head or hold my head still.

My hand/ wrist/ arm yanked in order to turn me or stop me from going somewhere I choose to go.

You probably shouldn’t flick me either. I will probably not see that as an acceptable way to touch me.

And some real for sure definite no ways:

Getting pushed up or down stairs, through a hall, over a chair or table, or down into anything.

Being shoved up against a wall or door.

Being picked up and thrown down.

Having my arms wrenched behind me and pulled up.

Being hit, open-handed or closed-fist. Neither one is acceptable.

Having my throat closed by squeezing.

What are the little physical clues? The things that abusers start with? They ways they test the waters? No one starts out the way the man who assaulted me did. The level of violence he went to the first time he chose to assault me went far past testing the waters.

My ex husband started with small things; things I didn’t notice because I was already used to them. But even at his worst, he never reached the level this guy did the first and only time. Yes, this guy knew I’d been abused in my marriage. Because of that knowledge, he felt safe to jump in right where he left off with his last victim.

The thing is abusers start small and subtle. How much power can they take? It’s a rush. It’s about control and power. And abusers use control and power like a drug. They have to have more to keep the rush. They need to see loss of power in the other in order to feel the rush. It’s not a Snap! There’s no moment when all of a sudden a normal guy goes all abuser on someone.

I want to open this discussion up to you. Let’s help each other. What are the physical clues that a man is an abuser? What are the subtle ways they test the waters to see what they can get away with? What physical touch do you not consent to?

I’m going to write about emotional abuse soon, because that is a predecessor to physical abuse. It may not always lead up to, but physical abuse is never without emotional abuse. But this post is about the physical.

 

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I forgive you

Dear Louis and Caroline,

I am writing to let you know I forgive you.
I forgive you for writing your Facebook post.
I forgive you for feeling you needed to write it when I had only ever sung your praises both publicly and privately.
I forgive you for writing it while you knew I would be flying and unable to read or answer it until after all your friends had seen it.
I forgive you for deleting any responses my friends put on it and then making it only for your friends to read.

I forgive you for believing that such a violent act against another human being needs nothing more than his say so that it won’t happen again with no consequences.
I forgive you for taking such a harrowing experience and trivializing it.

I forgive you for lying to me about what you felt I owed you.
I forgive you for lying to me about paying for the classes I taught.
I forgive you for believing that asking to settle between what I owed and what the classes cost, was asking for money.

I forgive you for not emotionally being there for me.
I forgive you for blaming me, instead of John Goosen by assaulting me, for the inconvenience of my staying in your home and eating at your restaurant.

I forgive you for accusing me, not John Goosen, for any part of the missed honeymoon time of our friends.
I forgive you for saying I “complained”.
I forgive you for only helping me move my things after being asked to by the honeymooners.
I forgive you for refusing to help me to have John Goosen arrested for his crime of assault and battery.
I forgive you for calling me selfish because I hadn’t gotten over it a mere 9 days after having been violently assaulted.

In replace of anger and frustration, I give forgiveness and compassion.
I give you a brush, with a mirror, for your daughters.
I give you a long, two person hammock that will easily fit two very tall individuals.
I give you all the things I left you, knowing that you could use them well.

I know that you both are also victims of the abusive cycle. It hurts me to see two sensible people behave the way you have, but I can
understand the need to find release from such a frustrating situation.  I understand it’s easier to release it on someone who isn’t there.

It hurts deep inside a person to know that they have been, and are friends with someone who is a violent abuser. You have long known that John is verbally assaulting at most times, that he becomes physically aggressive and out of control when he drinks, and now you know he is actually emotionally capable of killing someone with his bare hands.

That is hard to deal with on a very deep level. A level that many people don’t like to uncover and look at in themselves.

I didn’t like looking at that part of me when I was married. How could I love someone who hurt me all the time?
But I’ve already had to take that part of me out and give it a good long look-over. I’ve already spent many years and dollars on dealing with that part of me.

I’ve already had to deal with knowing and understanding the capabilities abusers have; the capability to look remorseful in order only to escape consequence; the capability to use faces, lies, and time to change how people see what happened.
I’ve already had the experiences that show me what to do in this situation. You haven’t.

I’ve had someone stand up for me before and have learned how to stand up for myself because of it.  You haven’t.

No one likes to stare abuse in the face.
People want it to go away. They want to think it isn’t really true, it wasn’t that bad, he wouldn’t really do that.
Because it’s easier that way.

Humans like things to be easy, simple, and not abusive. But this situation isn’t any of those things.
I only know what to expect and what to do, because I have already overcome it before.  You haven’t.
I don’t blame you for wanting things to go back to normal.
And I forgive you for expecting it to.
I forgive you for the pain you have caused me in addition to the pain of having been assaulted by your friend.

From this second on, I completely forgive you both, Louis and Caroline.
I cut my cords to you both with forgiveness, compassion, and love. Forgiveness of the acts, compassion for where you are, and love for who you are and what good you did do for me.

I forgive you.
Good-bye.

 

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The heartbreaking realities

The first month of any class is the toughest.  Creating routines, getting basic English words for keeping the class moving along as they learn new material, and learning English phonics.
It’s right around week 5 when I get to start seeing the little lightbulb moments as they recognize they’ve learned and can understand.

We’re just getting there in all my classes. This week I saw three little lightbulb moments. And this afternoon, as I was walking around the island, two little girls were walking down one of the side streets.  They were quiet and walking hand in hand.   They happened to look up and the one little girl , who is my student in the preschool class, opened her arms wide and ran to me,  teacher Mari!!  Without any hesitation she jumped in my arms and let me pick her up.
She gave me a beautiful hug and as I put her down, in her best new English she tried to introduce me to her friend and coached her in how to say, my name is…
The two girls and I parted with them smiling and happily laughing.
As I kept walking down the coast, I started hearing, teacher Mari, teacher Mari!  I looked up further and a small group of my elementary age students were gathered and called me over. I was so happily surprised with how well they were using English to explain the game they were playing and show me off to their friends.
My evening adult class is a newer class, only two weeks, but they finally understood the pattern I’ve been teaching them this week and three of them right away started using other words they know in the same pattern!
It’s these moments that I teach for. These moments when they realize they know, they try to share, and they take it farther on their own.

I LOVE teaching. I LOVE it.

And it breaks my heart, shatters it, to have to leave right now, just as it’s getting better for them.

Why does such terrible circumstances have to stop this progress?!  Who the fuck is this “nice guy” that everybody likes, that feels he has the right to keep me in a room against my will, and use ANY, let alone the amount of force, to make me listen to his drunken rants.  Who still maintains that if I had just sat and listened instead of trying to reach the door, he wouldn’t have hurt me so bad.

And as he’s all nice and calm again, admits he has a disease,
Well gosh! I should just let it all go, what’s the problem? , he’s going to get help.

Yeah. The fucking problem is that is a TRIED AND PROVEN PATTERN OF ABUSERS.
Diagnosing a disease doesn’t change the fact that abusers pick and choose, are in full awareness, and know how to look remorseful, and put on enough charm to get away with it.  They use time to make it feel like it wasn’t that bad. And they use their friendships to make it look like the victim is making too big of a deal out of it.

Tried and true classic pattern.

And the heartbreaking reality is that it doesn’t just affect me. The bruises are gone, I can almost put my backpack on, get dressed, or scratch my own back again without my shoulders hurting.  My wrists still hurt but you can’t see anything wrong. People don’t look at me and flinch, or ask how I am.  Time is passing.  But it’s a time bomb, and I know that.
A time bomb that I can’t be here to see go off.
The bomb may not go off here, if I leave. So in order to protect those that are helping me right now, I’m leaving here.
BUT THAT TIME BOMB WILL GO OFF SOMEWHERE IF LEFT UNCHECKED
I can’t leave that bomb unchecked. I will pursue the trial and whatever else is necessary to put checks and balances in place to ensure I’ve done my part.
Abusers don’t stop. They don’t get talked out of being abusers by the people around them.

The charming person isn’t who they are, it’s their cover up and protection against consequences. The charming side makes sure people, “can’t believe it” could be something the abuser would do.

This was a thought out act of violence. And because of it, my students will suffer.  My work here will be paused for who knows how long. These children don’t know what happened, all THEY will know is that I left. The adults have just another person who comes to help and leaves.

The heartbreaking reality is that it’s not just me that got hurt. But it’s me that will be doing the hurting of leaving.
And that sucks so much.

These tears fall with conviction. If education is my target, let violence be my arrow, and awareness be my breath.

 

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The Surreal moment I just had

I just had a beautiful but surreal moment.  I went to the Washington Middle School 8th grade Graduation.  I was able to witness every one of the students I’ve been working with walk across the stage that not only completes their Middle School education but begins their High School career.

Only 12 days after my own graduation, it came at me like a wave of surrealist paint.  Like Paul Fleet’s An Eye With A View, I felt like I was looking at a scene of looking at a scene.  Another UNM graduate spoke at the ceremony, a UNM graduate who had once attended WMS.  She spoke to them of trying circumstances and not being asked to join groups during High School, but rather having to take a leap of faith, put the goal in front and just go join the Honor Societies, the soccer team, the academic clubs.  She had to take the initiative and because she did, she’s now a college graduate.

She spoke of the statistics these kids are bombarded with from every direction.  Half will drop out, 1/3 will become unwed parents, 2/3 will be arrested for something before 18.  I saw many not so dry eyes, because some of these kids are the first in their family to make it this far.  Some are the first to be headed to High School in America, the land of opportunity, as long as you’re not Mexican.  These kids are fighting the odds put against them, and winning it right now.

It made me think of all the things people said to me when they first found out I was going to teach at Washington, largely known as one of the toughest schools.  Wow, really, are you scared?  Oh my gawd are you trying to change placement?  Make sure and bring a whistle, it startles them.   These children are pre-teens, barely teenagers, and they are faced with obstacles that would make a lot of different people drop out, but they are doing it through those circumstances.

I know students who live with distant relatives because those relatives live in the US.  Their parents still live in a different country; Cuba, Mexico, Chile.  I know students whose parents are in jail, dead, or not part of their lives for various reasons.  These kids are just kids.  The various reasons they are in the situations they are in are not their fault.  But they are dealing with the stereotypes, the people telling them they can’t, the biased tests telling them their not smart enough to, the families that can only offer so much, and making their education important for themselves at the same time.

I see my own Middle School experiences, my lack of High School, and now my struggle and triumph with college.  It was hard, really hard for me.  I had to fight for every moment in College.  But I did it in a society that accepts me simply because of the color of skin I was born into.  I can’t help the skin I was born into any more than they can.  I can’t change the fact that there are privileges I have, that they will rarely have, for no other reason than being born with fair skin.

I too was born into a low income home.  I too dealt with abuses.  I rarely found moments in which I felt supported.  I often raised my siblings.  I didn’t finish High School, dropped out in 10th grade.  I was married too young, had children too young.  I connect to these kids on more levels than they will ever understand and fewer levels than I can understand.

It was surreal, these many thoughts running through my mind as I hugged every one of my students after they received their diploma.  I don’t know if I was technically allowed to, but I stood at the foot of the stage stairs like one of the faculty and hugged them all as they came down the stairs.  I know that life is about to hit them harder than they’ve ever known.  BUT I also know that this group has an outstanding chance.  Maybe it’s my bias because I taught them, talked with them and learned from them, but I feel like this group is really going to go somewhere amazing. They are fighters for their own education.

 
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Posted by on 24/05/2012 in art, being a student, teaching

 

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